Cycling in Sydney Australia
OK, I have now registered with both schemes and gone for some test rides, so here's my take on them...
1) The app
Both apps are pretty similar, in that they present a map that shows where the nearest bike is. However, registering for ReddyGo was significantly easier – I was riding the bike away within seconds of downloading the app. oBike requires you to go through a lengthy registration process, registering your credit card etc, which is much more clunky. And generally, the UI is better on ReddyGo, offering a nicer route map of where you went after a ride and so on. So that’s a win for ReddyGo.
2) Charges and user agreements
Both schemes charge $1.99 for each 30 minutes. ReddyGo offers initial free rides when you sign up, which oBike doesn’t. Both schemes require you to make a deposit, ostensibly to ‘ensure your responsibility’. This deposit is refundable, and whilst ReddyGo make is clear in their user agreement that they will keep it if you damage a bike, the oBike terms are much less clear, only stating that you are liable for any damage to the bike. There’s some strange things in the user agreements for both schemes, such as clauses forbidding use in adverse weather conditions and requirements to return bikes to ‘designated parking racks’.
The deposit for oBike is $69, whilst for ReddyGo it’s $99, although ReddyGo allows you to initially hire a bike without paying the deposit. I’d call it a draw on the cost.
3) Bike comfort
OK, so now we get to the bit you were waiting for. What are the bikes actually like?
The general style is the same for each – upright, rather heavy, small-ish bikes with a basket on the front.
Both bikes feature adjustable saddles, although the oBike saddle is really hard to adjust. I tried a few bikes, so it wasn’t just one – I had to tug at it and twist it like mad to get it to move. (By default all the bikes I tried seemed to have them set really low.) The ReddyGo was better in this regard too – easier to adjust and get to a more sensible height. That said, both bikes a on the small size. I’m not that tall (about 176cm), and they were both too small for me – especially the oBike, with it’s very low saddle.
The ReddyGo has another controversial feature – solid (airless) tyres. No doubt great for the company as there are no punctures, but it does make for a rattly, harsh and slightly uncomfortable ride. Anything you put in the front basket that’s not strapped down is likely to jump out with all the vibration as you go along. And it you hit a bump or pothole, boy do you feel it. After a long-ish (45 min) ride on the not-very-comfortable saddle I definitely felt a bit, erm, chafed.
Mind you, at least the ReddyGo has tyres with a sensible profile. The oBike has what seem to be cyclocross types – smooth in the middle, but with really big rubber treads on the edge. This feels very odd when cornering, and makes the bike harder to ride than it should be. More sensible urban / hybrid tyres would be much better.
Notwithstanding the solid tyres, I think the ReddyGo pips the oBike for comfort. The oBike seat is just so low that it’s like riding a clown bike. So it’s a win for ReddyGo in the comfort stakes, but neither bike is really that comfortable.
4) Bike rideability
Comfort aside, what are they like to ride? The oBike is the more basic of the two. It doesn’t have gears, and the components are much more basic. The ReddyGo has more upmarket components (Shimnano gears, Tektro brakes) which work much better. In fact, the brakes on the oBike are hopeless. I hope you never need to do an emergency stop on an oBike, because even yanking the levers with all of my strength I was unable to do much more than ‘slow down gradually’.
The gearing on the oBike is rather high – getting up a slope can be a struggle (see below). The ReddyGo is much better in this regard, with the gears giving a sensible, low-ish range for cruising and tackling the occasional hill.
Perhaps because of the cheap components, the oBikes also seem to suffer more mechanical issues. I twice experienced mechanical issues on the oBike (strange noises from the front wheel, and a wobbly crank), whereas the ReddyGo bikes were all fine. The ReddyGo bikes are also a bit lighter (aluminium vs steel?), and just ride more like a normal bike. The oBike feels like a toy in comparison.
So it’s a clear win for ReddyGo on rideability.
5) The Gladesville Bridge test
Every day on my way to work I rider over Gladesville Bridge. When I tell people my route to work, they always comment on this, as if it’s some sort of epic achievement to summit this arch. In reality, it’s not that big a hill, but given its sort of iconic status, I thought I’d ride both the oBike and the ReddyGo to the top.
After reading the above, you can probably guess the result. Riding up Gladesville Bride on the oBike is indeed epic. Hard hard work – out of the saddle, knees hurting with the uncomfortable posture and high gearing. If it wasn’t for pride and the knowledge I’d be writing about it later, I’d probably have got off and pushed. I’m a fit guy used to riding a fixed gear up crazy hills. For the average non-cyclist jumping on one of these, any slight incline is going to be a struggle.
Whilst the ReddyGo was hardly a breeze, it was no harder than riding the Radish when loaded up. The gears help tremendously, and whilst I think perhaps could be set a little lower will at least give some relief when tackling an incline.
ReddyGo wins again!
6) Overall result
I was kind of hoping it would be a closer contest, but in fact there is a really clear winner. ReddyGo has a better app and much better bikes, and is the same cost. If you are going to sign up for one scheme, make it this one.
Great write up. Thank you. I haven't signed up to either yet as I am generally always on my own bike.
What I think would be useful to add though, given the concept of the hire scheme as being "grab 'n' go" is availability.
I spend most of my time in the inner south - CBD to Green Square and both schemes are represented, although oBike seems to have much greater coverage. That is there are always oBikes around, but sometimes I can't find any Reddy's - or they are a decent walk away. I also noticed that RG's do seem to always have their helmets, whereas most oBikes in our area have lost theirs by now.
Yes, good point, although availability is difficult to asses as it can be subjective. I'd tend to agree in general I see more oBiikes, but for example in the Chatswood area there are quite a few ReddyGo around, but no oBikes.
I think they are still adding more bikes to the system, so it may change. I also wonder if oBike will flood the place more, as their bikes are obviously cheaper and perhaps they can afford a greater rate of losses / non-use?
I believe thats their market strategy from what I've been told and what I saw in Singapore. Flood the streets so they are the most common and easy to find, taking most of the new users and drive competitors out of business. We'll see...
Although I didn't find an ReddyGo bike to test, your blog post pretty much ties in with what other riders have mentioned.
Edit : Opps AndrewK brought this up ; Marrickville for example, could not find an ReddyGo bike but easily 10 obikes
re: The ReddyGo has another controversial feature – solid (airless) tyres.
I am certain the obike has this feture too, pretty much a requirement instead of having to check for air pressure/pinch flats/flats
A few more things to add for the o.bike as I didn't use the ReddyGo
1/ O.bike deposit of $69 AUD attracts exchange rate penalty from my credit card.
2/ You have to top up the usage in $10 blocks
3/ There are a host of referral codes that pretty much makes your first 10 trips at $0.99 per 30minutes on this website
there is one plus you didn't mention; as far as the areas i've frequented or looked for share bikes, there are a lot more obikes then there are ReddyGos
edit: Opps, AndrewK brought this up as well. For Marrickville I could not find a ReddyGo bike when I last looked but there were 10+ obikes
"deposit of $69 AUD attracts exchange rate penalty from my credit card"
I use 28 Degrees Credit card for all purchases using foreign currency, including web purchases. No forex trx fees and the exchange rates seem to be those of the market for that day. I've been happy to use them for a number of years trouble free!
I almost grabbed an o Bike on Wednesday as had left my bike at work night before and didn't really feel like jogging back into work, but I ran in anyway.
Will sign up for one next week so the Mrs has a bike to ride down here (her bike is at home up the coast and no room to keep another one down here). Both scheme frames are good for her as she can only ride a step thru. Will bring a spare magic hat down for her though I think and see how we go.
Thanks for the referral codes!
There's some vandalised ones near me, one ready go and two Obikes. Is there a mechanism to report them to the respective companies?
You can report it also in the ReddyGo bike app.
I've only tried the oBike and my experience aligns with yours more or less completely.
I was astonished how difficult it was to get up anything above a 2% gradient. Which in Sydney is kind of a big problem.
The overall experience was unpleasant; I felt flustered and uncomfortable for most of the ride.
Yesterday morning, early, I spotted two oBikes at the ready at Bronte Beach. I thought to myself where are you going to go on one of these from here. In every direction there is a decent climb out, something that I could not imagine on one of these bikes.
I've only ridden the reddy go due to the fact that whenever i need one there aren't any obikes. I mainly use them in Manly but also Epping had only reddygo when i needed one there.
On the topic...there is a small group of us who are planning to complete the Newcastle overnight on these bikes. ReddyGo, who seem to be far more engaged on social media, have agreed to supply 5 bikes and some support/social media coverage of the ride. Obike haven't got back to us yet. Reading this review makes me even more determined to complete the 170 odd ks on the obike. I've done it on a bmx so it can't be much worse than that, right?. Anyway i'm looking to recruit at least 1 other person to accompany us on this somewhat foolish expedition. Currently there are 4 people committed if you, or someone you know, would like to be a part of this let me know.